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“Murderabilia” and “Son of Sam” Laws in Florida

In our society, there is morbid curiosity and significant interest in the crimes that others commit. American cinema delves further into this interest by romanticizing common burglaries as “heists” and attempting to get into the psyche of murders, in particular, serial murderers. This interest extends beyond just cinema, as more often people are looking to get their hands on criminal paraphernalia sold by those imprisoned. This has come to be known as “murderabilia”.

What is “Murderabilia”?

“Murderabilia” can extend beyond just artifacts that may have been involved in the crime for which the inmate was convicted. Sometimes, inmates, especially those who are more well-known for their crimes, have time on their hands and choose to express themselves through painting and other artistic mediums, such as writing books and memoirs. Many of the collectors are drawn to the murderabilia to get a better sense of who the person was and is in an attempt to understand what may be conceived as a “twisted mind”. Other times, many want to analyze the pieces in hopes that there are clues within the pieces that may hint at other crimes that were never solved but were still linked to the criminal person in general. Others enjoy the material for the fact that it provides a piece of history, even though that history may be considered morbid or gruesome.

“Son of Sam” Laws and How They Impact First Amendment Rights

There are many agents and collectors on the outside that are looking to make a pretty penny off of the artworks and murderabilia of famed inmates. There are “Son of Sam” laws, among other bills, that serve to prohibit famed killers from making significant money off of the crimes that they committed. The “Son of Sam” laws were originally drafted in the 1970s, as a result of serial killer David Berkowitz attempting to make a significant amount of money by selling his story to book publishers. The law was put into place so as to seize the proceeds from the sale and redistribute the funds to the victims’ families. Though the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that these laws infringed on the First Amendment rights of those imprisoned, there have been several laws that still attempt to limit prisoners financially benefiting from their horrific stories.

Florida’s Lien on Felon Proceeds from the Literary or Artistic Account of One’s Crime

Florida has established its own proceeds-lien law that details how any proceeds from any artwork, in particular, literary or cinematic accounts of how a crime was committed, will be distributed. According to law, proceeds from any account of how a crime was committed will be distributed in the following ways:

  • Twenty-five percent of the proceeds should be distributed to the felon’s dependents. If felon has no dependents, that money will be disbursed into the Crimes Compensation Trust Fund, which compensates victims of crimes in Florida;
  • Twenty-five percent will be distributed to compensate the victim(s) of the crime that the felon had committed, or the dependents of the victims, to the extent that damages were determined in the court. If the damages are less than the 25 percent, then the remainder of this portion will be contributed to the Crimes Compensation Trust Fund.
  • The proceeds will then be used to pay for the court costs associated with the prosecution of the convicted felon, along with the jury fees, the per diem for prosecuting attorneys in Florida, court reporter fees, etc.
  • Any remainder will be provided to the Crimes Compensation Trust Fund.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Being a criminal defendant does not pay, even if you believe that your story may be interesting to the masses. Being convicted of a crime will make your life considerably more difficult. If you have been arrested for a crime, it is important to speak with an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik who can explain how the criminal justice system will work in your case. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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